Must be the weather. I was writing down when various batches of sausage were made, and it turns out I’ve done 5+ batches of sausage in the past couple weeks – far more than normal. Three reasons. 1) my new grinder is making the whole process easier and more enjoyable and more importantly 2) my cellar conditions are where they need to be and 3) I have some time, with most of the garden in, wines started, and a gap between butchering sessions. So this morning, another batch of saucisson sec – same recipe from ‘Charcuterie’, but in hog casing. The big dark ones in the photo are more of a coppa/saucisson sec, and have hung for a couple weeks now. I made the saucisson out in my unheated garage this morning as it sleeted – again taking advantage of the cold.
Conditions: The bottom line with dry curing, is if you don’t have a space with the right temp and humidity, you can’t do it. Trying to fight those requirements yields wasted meat and time – been there. My cellar’s currently at 11.3C and 64% humidity, so I’m pretty pleased. Perhaps a bit cold, but I’ll take it. I’m fairly certain that the cheese cellaring setups are contributing critical additional moisture to the space as they have water wicking into masonry achieving 95% or so within the container, and the lids are quite open, allowing humidity to escape – the sausages sitting above the cheese cases. Who knew cheese cellaring could assist meat cellaring. I also have your typical salted water bucket in the space wicking into a cloth, dripping onto a large flat rock. Takes all that here when furnaces are running, and I’m guessing it won’t be enough in a couple months. My backup plan is to store the finished saucisson [if succesful] in a setup similar to what’s holding my cheese – no humidity problems there, and I know my cellar drops to 8-9C in the deep freeze of Jan/Feb – so keeping it there should be safe.
Troubleshooting: One item I need to resolve when using the natural hog casing – how to hang them so that the adjacent sausage isn’t touching it’s ‘partner’. I know dowels are used at the joint rather than string as I’ve done, but that wouldn’t be a practical setup here. I think simply tying them up so they don’t touch would be easier and more effective. The second bit I have to improve on is making sure my trim [when butchering the pigs] has an appropriate amount of back fat tossed in with it so that when sausage making time comes, the bag is geared up with exactly what I need. This batch has half as much diced back fat as it should – simply because that’s all that was tossed in on butchering day. Easy fix.
Last item of note. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on forums, and have become very grateful for my space. Most folks use geared out fridges of some kind. Although the fridges have their advantages, I’m finding my cellar offers vastly more capacity [the space being about 4’x8’x6′], requires no technology, and has no operating cost for energy. I also get that utopic experience of walking into the cellar to see all of the hanging meats in their glory, rather than a not-so-lovely-fridge.